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Congressman Mike Quigley

Representing the 5th District of Illinois

Eight Years of Progress Under President Obama

Dec 1, 2016

WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) spoke on the House Floor about the social and economic progress made during President Obama's eight years in office. 

Below is a video and transcript of the speech.

Eight years ago, our nation was in the midst of a Great Recession – it was the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, unprecedented in both severity and duration.

An economic tailspin that blindsided many, devastated millions, and robbed good people of their savings, their security, and their way of life.

A disastrous combination of irresponsible lending, overly complex derivatives, and inadequate regulatory oversight almost led to a near collapse of our financial system.

Over the course of this economic catastrophe, more than five million Americans lost the roof over their head and another nine million lost the paycheck they relied on to support themselves and their families.

People were terrified for their futures and for the first time in generations, it looked as if moms and dads might have it better off than their sons and daughters.

And this chaos and despair extended far beyond economics.

Eight years ago, we had a president who was more focused on fossil fuel exploration than acknowledging the real and immediate threat that climate change poses to our earth and all of the people who inhabit it.

At the end of 2008, almost sixteen percent of the population was uninsured.

This meant that over 50 million Americans were crossing their fingers and holding their breath, hoping to avoid any unpredictable, unanticipated, and uncontrollable health concerns that would turn their lives upside down.

Simply being a woman or having asthma was enough for insurance companies to deny you quality care, and basic preventive and primary care services were hard to come by.

Thousands of brave men and women in uniform had been killed, and scores more wounded, in a long and polarizing war in Iraq.

LGBT Americans had to keep their true identities hidden.

Gay men and women who served their nation in uniform and risked their lives in defense of our freedom had to stay quiet about whom they loved.

And those who could be open about their sexual orientation were not allowed to join their partner in marriage if they lived in one of the 48 states that prohibited same-sex marriage.

This was the state of our union. This was the America that President Obama inherited on January 20, 2009.

Things look a little different today, and I know that I speak for millions of Americans that are grateful for the past eight years fueled by real change that made our economy stronger and our society much more just.

When President Obama took his oath of office, the economy was bleeding 800,000 jobs a month.

Today, we have seen record private-sector job growth marked by over 15 million new jobs over the past 80 months.

At the height of the recession in 2009, unemployment hit an alarming10 percent. But today, the unemployment rate is below 5 percent.

Today, thanks to the Dodd-Frank, systemic risk in our financial system has been significantly reduced and our largest banking institutions are more transparent and accountable than they have been in decades.

Today, marriage equality is now the law of the land in all 50 States.

Today, nearly 18 million previously uninsured Americans have gained coverage under the‎ Affordable Care Act, resulting in the lowest uninsured rate in history.

Today, men and women are charged the same price for health care. Americans can access preventive care services at no cost; pre-existing conditions don’t bar individuals from treatment; and young people can stay on their parents’ plan until they're 26.

Today, because of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which was the first piece of legislation signed by President Obama, women can more effectively challenge unequal pay practices.

Today, previously fraught relationships with many allied countries have been restored.

Today, the combat mission in Iraq is over and tens of thousands of troops are back home with their families after years of war.

Today, justice has been served and Osama bin Laden is dead.

Today, our nation has championed some of the most profound climate change initiatives in the world like the Clean Power Plan and the Paris Accords, which will help protect our precious natural resources and defend our environment for generations to come.

It is up to us to decide if we want to move forward or back. Nearly a decade of progress is on the chopping block.

There is no doubt that everyone is still reeling from the long and divisive campaign season that culminated in an election that left millions of Americans scared once again.

The economic recovery and social victories we have seen during Obama’s presidency have been substantial, but much more work remains to ensure that all Americans have an equal opportunity to succeed. 

Because even though today looks better than it did eight years ago, what will tomorrow look like?

As for now, and as for me, I am proud to serve in the people's House under this president. 

Thank you, and I yeild back.